Oath Keepers leader and 10 others charged with 'seditious conspiracy' related to US Capitol attack
By Katelyn Polantz, Hannah Rabinowitz, Holmes Lybrand, and Tierney Sneed, CNN
(CNN) -- The Justice Department has charged 11 defendants with seditious conspiracy related to the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, including the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes.
The new indictment, handed down by a grand jury on Wednesday and made public Thursday, alleges that Rhodes and his co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy to "oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force, by preventing, hindering, or delaying by force execution of laws governing the transfer of power."
Prosecutors have previously said that Rhodes used Signal during the attack to communicate with other members of the Oath Keepers who were at the Capitol.
"All I see Trump doing is complaining. I see no intent by him to do anything," Rhodes allegedly wrote. "So the patriots are taking it into their own hands. They've had enough," he allegedly said on Signal at 1:38 p.m. that day, shortly after the siege had begun.
The charges mark a dramatic change in the Justice Department's January 6 probe. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a speech last week commemorating the Capitol attack that the department was "committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law -- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy."
Rhodes has also been of interest to the House's January 6 investigation, which issued subpoenas in November for him and his organization for a deposition and documents related to the events of that day.
CNN reported in July that Rhodes gave a voluntary interview to the FBI and that investigators seized his cell phone. He has denied all wrongdoing.
According to previous court filings submitted by the Justice Department in other cases, Rhodes said at a November 2020 online meeting, "We're going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don't guys, you're going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war and a bloody -- you can call it an insurrection, or you can call it a war or fight."
Rhodes' lawyer, Jonathan Moseley, confirmed the arrest.
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